'Media person' will be part of each crew in the 2008-9 race

The practice of ’embedding’ reporters in the battle zones of Iraq and Afghanistan has become de rigeur. The Volvo Ocean Race is following suit for the 2008-09 race with journalists hitting the front line of ocean racing after it was announced that a media specialist will be part of each Volvo 70 crew.

Until now, the rules of engagement between the sailors and the journalists who cover their lives on board have always been fairly clear. When the contest is done and the scores are tallied, the sailors face an inquisitive throng – sometimes happily, sometimes not. Afterwards, the media horde takes off in one direction to file their pictures and stories, while the sailors are left to celebrate their success or rue their failure.

It’s a system with clearly marked lines of demarcation between two parties. In the next edition of the race it will be anything but. For when the crews set off on the marathon event in the autumn of 2008, they will do so with an ’embedded’, onboard correspondent whose sole responsibility will be to chronicle their triumphs and terrors. The aim is to present to the race’s legions of followers with an in-depth portrait of its intensity, competitiveness and human spirit like never before.

The news that a media specialist is to be included in the crew make-up, has been received with varying degrees of enthusiasm by two Volvo skippers whose 2008 campaigns are up and running. ‘I think it’s great,’ said Ericsson’s John Kostecki, unequivocally. ‘The media coming off the boat will be up to another level, which is what we need.’ ‘Was I sceptical when I first heard about it?’ said Mean Machine’s Ray Davies. ‘Yes, I was. For sure.’

Kostecki adds: ‘I’ve been contacted by a lot of different people [who are interested in applying] and I’ve been honest with them. I haven’t thought much about it yet. We’ll probably have a handful of people that we’d consider as candidates, run some sort of crew tryouts, and pick the best person for the job.’